Vernon community stepping up to help home explosion victims

WTNH/Josh Scheinblum

VERNON, Conn. (WTNH) — When we first met Laura Ricci she was visibly concerned for her friends, the Kerstetters. Late Thursday afternoon their Vernon home exploded. Friday, while Laura says she’s still praying for them, she is now feeling a sense of optimism.

“This is a wonderful community we live in,” said Ricci. “I’m sure they’re going to have everything, all the support that they need.”

Related Content: Vernon home explodes, collapses with people trapped inside

One of the driving forces behind Laura’s change of heart is a local Vernon non-profit organization called the Cornerstone Foundation. In the wake of the disaster, that put seven people in the hospital, those affiliated with the group are working to rally the community together.

“I got a call from one of the family members asking if I would come in today on my day off, that they would like to come in and get clothing for the family,” said Christine Filanowicz, a Conerstone director. “So I did that.”

They’re off to a good start. Around 24 hours after the home blew up, at a building they call their “Clothing Bank Etc.” a box full of donations was there to greet volunteers. Five bags of clothing have already been given to the victims.

Related Content: All victims of Vernon home explosion expected to survive

“We did good so hopefully we’ll do good for the family,” said Filanowicz.

Jennifer Kirchmeier is one of Cornerstone’s volunteers. When Jennifer isn’t bringing in bags of gifts she is spreading their message online.

“We’ve started a Facebook page,” said Filanowicz. “We can keep updates on what they need and what their actual needs right away are.”

Jennifer says like many in the Vernon community she has been praying better days will be ahead for the Kerstetters. No matter what you may believe, at least in this case, it would appear those prayers are being answered.

“This is a very loving community,” said Filanowicz.

Officials with Cornerstone say some in Vernon have donated thousands of dollars in the effort to help. Vernon Public School administrators are also collecting items to assist the victims.

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